German VAT rates and VAT compliance

German VAT rates

Whilst Germany follows the EU rules on VAT compliance, it is still free to set its own standard (upper) VAT rate.  The only proviso is that it is above 15%.  Suppliers of goods or services VAT registered in German must charge the appropriate VAT rate, and collect the tax for onward payment to the German tax authorities through a VAT filling see German VAT returns briefing.

The current rates are:

Germany VAT rates

Rate Type Which goods or services
19% Standard All other taxable goods and services
7% Reduced Some foodstuffs; water supplies (excluding bottled water); medical equipment for disabled persons; some domestic passenger transport; intra-community and international passenger transport for certain road, rail and inland waterway transportation; books (excluding books whose content is harmful to minors); e-books; audiobooks; newspapers and periodicals (except those containing content harmful to minors and/or more than 50% advertising); admission to cultural events; writers and composers; some agricultural inputs; hotel accommodation (only short-term accommodation); certain admission to sports events; social services; medical and dental care; firewood; some timber for industrial use; take away food; cut flowers and plants for decorative use and food production; taxation of some gold coins and jewellery
0% Zero Intra-community and international transport (excluding road and rail and some inland waterways transport)

German VAT compliance

Once registered for German VAT, you will have to start following the local rules in a number of aspects.  This includes:

  • Issuing invoices with the disclosure details outlined in the German VAT Act.
  • Electronic invoices with proper signature, authenticity and agreement by the recipient.
  • Maintenance of accounts of record, which must be held for at least 10 years.
  • Correct invoicing of customers for goods or services in accordance with the German time of supply VAT rules.
  • Processing of credit notes and other corrections.
  • Use of approved foreign currency rates.

What is the tax point for German VAT?

The tax point, or time of supply rules in Germany determine when the VAT is due.  It is then payable to the tax authorities 10 days after the VAT reporting period end (monthly or quarterly).

For most goods, it is the time of delivery or passage of title.  For services, it is the completion of the service.


Need help with your German VAT compliance?



Researching German VAT legislation is the first step to understanding your VAT compliance needs. Avalara has a range of solutions that can help your business depending on where and how you trade. 

Latest German news

EU request ending of German F22 VAT Certificate marketplace obligation

Oct 11, 2019 

The EU Commission (EC) has today sent to Germany a notice of formal notice to withdraw its 2019 requirement for EU and non-EU sellers on marketplaces to obtain an F22 VAT Certificate.

Germany cuts rail VAT

Sep 22, 2019

Germany has announced a reduction in the VAT rate applied on train journeys from the standard rate 19% to the 7% reduced VAT rate. The measure is part of a range of proposals to reduce the environment

Germany VAT certificates for EU sellers Oct 2020

Sep 7, 2019

EU online retailers selling to German consumers must provide any marketplaces they are active on with a VAT Certificate (Bescheinigungen nach § 22f UStG) from the German tax office, Finanzamt.